iOS app Android app

The WorldPost

Weekend Roundup: How Will Greece Take Its Hemlock?

Nathan Gardels | Posted 07.02.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Ancient Greece was not only the birthplace of democracy, but also a deathbed of reason when a jury of 500 citizens condemned Socrates to die by hemlock poisoning for his impious attitude toward the order of the day. Defiant to the end, the philosopher voluntarily drank the poison himself in a suicidal display of dignity. This weekend, Greek voters will decide in a referendum whether they will be force-fed more painful austerity, imposed by the jury of other European democracies, or, like Socrates, administer their own poison in a "no" vote that will likely push Greece out of the eurozone. Tragedy, too, such as we are witnessing today, had its origins in early Greek drama. Nobel Laureate Joe Stiglitz and Martin Guzman argue that Greece will be better off administering the poison by its own hand. As they point out by examining the Argentine default in 2001, there is "life after debt and default." Manolis Glezos, the elderly firebrand of Syriza, writes from Athens that, in a democracy, "the people are the measure" of their fate. (continued)

Rise and Shine

Dr. Michael Laitman | Posted 07.02.2015 | Religion
Dr. Michael Laitman

For more than ten years now I have been saying that anti-Semitism is a real problem and that we have to start acting. For almost that long I have been asked, "So why aren't you coming out and warning everyone?"

Weekend Roundup: Refugees and the ‘Left Behind' Rock Europe

Nathan Gardels | Posted 06.26.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

A flood of desperate refugees from across the Mediterranean and the related surge of indignant fringe parties, including now from iconic, self-satisfied Denmark, are battering the discredited political establishment in Europe. Writing from London, Mark Leonard argues that the contest in Europe today is not between right and left; it is a revolt of the left behind masses against the "cosmopolitan" and "metrosexual" elites. Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, says in an interview that what Europe needs is "pragmatic solutions, not big debates" when resolving the Greek financial crisis. (continued)

We Cannot Destroy ISIS, So We Should Build Ourselves

Dr. Michael Laitman | Posted 06.24.2015 | World
Dr. Michael Laitman

The crux of the matter is that today's youngsters have neither identity nor belonging. This is what all of us, all over the Western world, should focus on, because the problem is not endemic to the UK but manifests globally. The heart of the Western world's problems is social alienation.

Weekend Roundup: Is the West Abandoning Globalization?

Nathan Gardels | Posted 06.19.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

As China establishes a new infrastructure investment bank for Asia and builds out the new Silk Road trading route westward to Turkey, the U.S. Congress is balking at trade agreements and retreating from the very global institutions that have been the pillars of the American-led order. The European project is unraveling as Greece is poised on the brink of default and an exit from the euro. No doubt President Obama's proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership needs some fixing once on the "fast-track," notably concerning the weight it gives to corporate prerogatives. But something more is going on. In Europe, too, there is mounting opposition to the proposed trans-Atlantic trade pact with the U.S., as well as the rise of anti-foreigner and anti-EU parties. Is the West abandoning globalization and the post-war integration of Europe, a mutiny against what has provided its bounty? (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Turkish and Greek Democracy Upend the Status Quo

Nathan Gardels | Posted 06.12.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

The value of democracy, when it works, is its capacity to change course. In both Greece, and now Turkey, recent elections have upended the status quo. With Greece having lost an astonishing 25 percent of its GDP through austerity policies, the Syriza government that came to power earlier this year has insisted on sticking to its popular mandate to resist the demands of creditors and hold out for debt relief. The prospects of default and an exit from the eurozone have never been closer. In Turkey, which has been seeking to join the European Union, the autocratic path set by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been stopped in its tracks by voters in this week's poll. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Showdown Between the U.S. and China at Mischief Reef

Nathan Gardels | Posted 06.05.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Trouble is brewing between the U.S. and China over the aptly named Mischief Reef and other islets in the South China Sea, which China claims. The contretemps over these tiny shoals is an early proxy battle for the grand contest of the 21st century between the rising power of China and the established American world order. Writing this week from Beijing, Yanmei Xie argues that the U.S. should be defending a global commons in the South China Sea, not naval supremacy. Shen Dingli writes from Shanghai that China has every right to "build sovereignty" there. Harvard professor and former chair of the CIA's National Intelligence Council, Joe Nye, says the U.S. should stick to its long-standing policy of not getting involved in territorial disputes in Asia. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Pope Francis Resurrects Liberation Theology -- Without Marx

Nathan Gardels | Posted 05.31.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

If communism is "The God That Failed," liberation theology is the gospel that has succeeded. Marx may be dead, but the cause of the poor and oppressed has been resurrected. This is the message the Argentine pope, Francis, sent by canonizing Oscar Romero, reversing decades of conservative opposition in the church hierarchy and setting the El Salvadoran archbishop on the road to sainthood. Romero was gunned down at the altar in 1980 by a right-wing death squad that regarded him as a dangerous Marxist because of his activism on behalf of the poor. As Paul Vallely writes, Romero is an exemplar for Francis. Both are "orthodox and yet utterly radical." Romero is "a priest whose life stands in testament to the kind of Catholicism preferred by a pope who declared within days of his election that he wanted 'a poor Church for the poor.'" (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Seizure of Palmyra Signals New Dark Age in Mideast

Nathan Gardels | Posted 05.22.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

The seizure of Palmyra this week by ISIS could not be more emblematic of the new dark age descending on the Mideast. In the name of decontaminating Islam, the Wahhabi offshoot has pledged to demolish even the ruins of this ancient crossroads of the Roman Empire, India, China and Persia that represents the historical diversity of intermingling cultures. It is yet another sobering lesson in how the accomplishments of civilization can be rolled back by the mad pursuit of pure states of being - whether of ideal pasts, utopian futures, races or religions. As WorldPost correspondent Sophia Jones reports, Palmyra is also darkly remembered by many Syrians for its more recent history as a "death camp" of "torture and fear" in the 1980s and 1990s under Hafez al- Assad.

Weekend Roundup: Is the Information Age the Age of Non-Communication?

Nathan Gardels | Posted 05.15.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Facebook has become the world's publishing Leviathan with 1.4 billion users - a cyberpopulation the size of China. Never before have so many of like mind and sympathetic bent been able to connect with each other. Yet, by slotting what is shared through algorithm and personalization into silos of the similar, few boundaries beyond the familiar are being crossed. As identities fortify into tribes through this increasingly dominant medium, one wonders if the information age is becoming the age of non-communication. On this point, "technosociologist" Zeynep Tufekci contests a study recently released by Facebook that claims it is not creating echo chambers. Timothy Karr also worries that Mark Zuckerberg's plan to provide cyber access to the world's poor through Internet.org will "represent the entirety of the Internet for a significant proportion of the world's population."

Weekend Roundup: A New Cold War Is Brewing in the Pacific

Nathan Gardels | Posted 05.08.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Is a new Cold War brewing in the Pacific between China and the U.S. with Japan playing a front line role? Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Washington last week alarmingly pushed developments in that direction. In a blog he adapted from his well-received speech to the U.S. Congress, Abe proposes that the two democratic post-WWII allies join in a "seamless" strategic effort to "to spread and nurture our shared values" and "stick to the path" that "won the Cold War" -- and, in so many words not spoken, to contain China. By excluding China, the world's second largest economy, from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership on trade while embracing the revision of Japan's pacifist constitution to allow military action beyond self-defense without an apology for colonialism and aggression acceptable to its Asian neighbors, the U.S. and Japan are laying the cornerstone of a new bloc system in the Pacific. As Minxin Pei writes, China's leaders will certainly see it that way and respond in kind. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: The WorldPost Hosts Fareed Zakaria

Nathan Gardels | Posted 05.01.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

This week, The WorldPost hosted a book party in Los Angeles for CNN's Fareed Zakaria as part of the launch of his new treatise, "In Defense of a Liberal Education." He is also a member of the Berggruen Institute's 21st Century Council. Attendees included, among many others, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, financiers Steve Schwarzman, David Bonderman and Mohamed el-Erian, California State Senator Bob Hertzberg, former California Governor Gray Davis and Hollywood producers Brian Grazer, Lawrence Bender and Mike Medavoy. Economist Nouriel Roubini, essayist Pico Iyer and Harvard historian Niall Ferguson also attended. Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban sparred with Zakaria over the rights of Palestinians and the future of Israel as a democratic state. Jack Miles, editor of the "Norton Anthology of World Religions," writes in The WorldPost this week that America is losing in the Mideast because its foreign policy has been technology-focused (drones, etc.) instead of humanities-focused (history, religion, etc.). (continued)

Weekend Roundup: 'The Wretched of the Earth' Are on the Move as Migrants

Nathan Gardels | Posted 06.24.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

"The wretched of the earth," in Frantz Fanon's famous phrase, are on the move as migrants. Mostly, they have headed north across scorching deserts and menacing seas to follow their dreams of escaping poverty and finding a better life. As the writer Carlos Monsivais once quipped, "Los Angeles is the heart of the Mexican Dream." Now, as we see at both the U.S. border and European shores, migrants are also fleeing north in the rusty holds of doomed ships from Libya or the "La Bestia" death train from Central America to evade the nightmares of civil war, brutal Salvadoran street gangs or merciless Mexican drug cartels. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Work With Nature, Not Against It

Nathan Gardels | Posted 06.17.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Since Earth Day, which will be marked on April 22, was first commemorated 45 years ago, we have learned a lot about the planet's ecology. Above all, we have begun to understand the biological intelligence of nature itself that, for millennia, has managed to continually regenerate and stabilize that narrow band of a livable climate that has enabled our species and others to thrive. Working with nature, not against it, to combat climate change is the message of the Leo DiCaprio-narrated short video documentary, "Restoration," we publish this week. As senior Chinese diplomat Wu Jianmin writes from Beijing, we are also learning to work together as nations through geo-environmental cooperation, as exemplified by the recent U.S.-China agreement to jointly reduce carbon gases. (continued)

What (Only) the Jews Can Do to Prevent the Next Holocaust

Dr. Michael Laitman | Posted 06.11.2015 | Religion
Dr. Michael Laitman

We need to understand why there is anti-Semitism to begin with because despite numerous explanations, we have not figured out why it has endured for so many centuries, constantly wearing new attires, and most important, what can be done to finally uproot it.

Weekend Roundup: As Mideast War Levels Ancient Cities, Asia Invests in the Future

Nathan Gardels | Posted 06.10.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

While the Middle East is consumed by an orgy of destruction that has devastated ancient cities like Aleppo and Tikrit, Asia, led by China, is building out the infrastructure of the future. While past wounds drive the tribal and religious rivalries in the Middle East, in Asia the contest -- and the cooperation -- is about shaping the future. The most recent scuffle in the contest over the future has been the slew of American allies -- Great Britain, Italy, France, Australia and others -- who have defied U.S. admonitions not to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which it sees as a rival to the World Bank and IMF system. In the "cooperation" column, Zbigniew Brzezinski observes in a WorldPost interview that China signed on as a guarantor of the Lausanne agreement on Iran's nuclear program. This, along with the fact it has also joined with the U.S. to curb North Korean nuclear proliferation and fight climate change, shows China is stepping up to the plate as a responsible global power. Former MI6 agent Alastair Crooke writes from Beirut that the U.S. has been "immobilized" in the Sunni-Shia proxy wars and must settle for "an equilibrium of antagonisms." (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Yemen Ignites New Mideast War Within Islam

Nathan Gardels | Posted 06.03.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

If reading the next sentence about the bewildering tangle of so many bloody crossed swords in the Middle East makes your head hurt, just be thankful you live somewhere else where decapitation is not a regular occurrence. The intensifying Saudi-led Sunni coalition assault on Iranian-linked Shiite tribes in Yemen this week -- at the very moment when Shiite militia allied with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government were ousting Saudi Wahhabist-inspired Islamic State jihadis from Tikrit -- signaled the onset of a generalized sectarian religious war across the region. And if the current bright spot of the interim agreement with Western powers that curbs Iran's capacity to weaponize its uranium enrichment program should unravel over the coming months, the entire conflict threatens to go nuclear. Graham Fuller, former vice-chair of the CIA's National Intelligence Council and a former station chief in several Mideast countries, deciphers the perplexing labyrinth of the Yemeni conflict, where "the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy." (continued)

Not Even James Bond Can Rescue Mexico's Image

Homero Aridjis | Posted 05.31.2015 | World
Homero Aridjis

MEXICO CITY -- While James Bond is cavorting in downtown Mexico City among giant skeleton props, leaping over rooftops and jumping into helicopters in an fictional exercise the government hopes will bolster Brand Mexico, Mexicans all over the country are clamoring for a new deal and real justice.

Weekend Roundup: Death of the First Global Statesman

Nathan Gardels | Posted 05.27.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

This week, Singapore's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, died at 91. Though the last remaining of the great figures of post-WWII decolonization, Lee was also the first global statesman. As he himself put it, "when we were pushed out of Malaysia we had no hinterland. So we had to do or die, and the globalization of the world helped us. So we made the world our hinterland." By thinking global, but acting local, Lee was able to vault his small city-state from the Third World to the First World. The WorldPost remembers Lee through his own words from interviews I have done with him over the years. Writing from Singapore, Pranay Gupte focuses on Lee's unique accomplishment of "clean governance." Writing from Beijing, philosopher Daniel A. Bell emphasizes Singapore's meritocratic government as the core of its success with lessons for China. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: The Politics of Polarization Always Ends Badly

Nathan Gardels | Posted 05.20.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Whether in Russia, Venezuela or Israel, the ugly politics of polarization may work in winning elections -- but it always ends badly. Netanyahu's scaremongering against Arab voters and dashing of a two-state solution (his bad faith post-election backtrack notwithstanding) dispels two long-held illusions at once: that Israeli democracy would be inclusive or that Palestinians would have their own state. If there is no room for Palestinians anywhere, then what? In an exclusive interview with the Huffington Post, (full interview to be released Saturday), U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the Israeli election, Iran and other issues. Writing from Amman, prominent Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab draws the logical conclusion from Israel's election results that Palestinians must now pursue their own unilateral path and that the world community should no longer feel bound to defend Israel in international institutions. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: How Japan's Past Shadows Asia's Future

Nathan Gardels | Posted 05.13.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

TOKYO -- Looking out onto Tokyo's towering neon cityscape, it is difficult to imagine the utter devastation of Japan's capital 70 years ago this week in one of the world's greatest overlooked atrocities -- the unsparing American firebombing that incinerated more people than either of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. In this respect, Japan is a long way from its past. But a visit to Tokyo this week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- during which she noted how her country had accepted culpability for its WWII fascist aggression in a way that Japan has not -- also highlights how the past still shadows the present -- and the future -- in Asia. (In Europe also the past has returned from another angle as Greece is demanding reparations from Germany). (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Preparing to Be Disrupted

Nathan Gardels | Posted 05.06.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

This week, The WorldPost conference on "The Future of Work" took place at Lancaster House in London. Discussion around the theme "prepare to be disrupted" ranged from how the emergent sharing economy, along with 3D desktop manufacturing, would take work back into the home to worries that automation could eliminate as much as 47 percent of current jobs in the United States.

Amidst the Medieval Darkness of ISIS, the Kurds Stand for Secularism and Democracy in the Middle East

Behlül Özkan | Posted 05.06.2015 | World
Behlül Özkan

ISTANBUL -- Turkey's Kurdish movement has managed to survive and grow for 30 years in the Middle East, where politics is a dangerous business. Whether in Iran, Iraq, Syria or Turkey, the Kurds are now one of the key players in the Middle East, having won the world's admiration for their defeat of ISIS in Kobani. Secular, democratic and a champion of women's rights, the Kurdish movement has emerged as the most serious rival to radical groups like ISIS.

'Downton Abbey' Creator: 'People Pray for My Characters'

Alain Elkann | Posted 05.04.2015 | World
Alain Elkann

I think we are trying to create a world in itself, a kind of universe. We want people to become involved with that world, and they do it in their relationships with these fictional characters. And sometimes their relationship can be surprisingly powerful, almost alarming. People pray for my characters.

Artificial Intelligence Technology Is 'Breaking Out of the Box'

Peter Mellgard | Posted 05.07.2015 | World
Peter Mellgard

"The exponential improvement in the elements of computing is not about to run out of gas. We've got generations more of it to go. Geeks out there are going to take that computational power and that ocean of data and do things that astonish us."